RESET: Russian Parliament Declares National Do-Over, Allows Putin to Rule Until 2036

It looks like the Kremlin finally found a working Reset button.

On Monday, the Russian Federation Constitutional Court approved a package of amendments passed by the nation’s parliament (or Duma) last week, officially resetting President Vladimir Putin’s previous two terms and effectively neutralizing the country’s two-term limit. NYT’s Moscow bureau chief, Andrew Higgins, described the decision as “a dense 52-page ruling clogged with legalese” that removes the last, “albeit very flimsy potential obstacles to Mr. Putin effectively becoming president for life.”

It’s kind of like a mulligan in golf, except that instead of a simple do-over for a bad shot, it’s a fig leaf for nearly doubling Putin’s two-decade-long authoritarian power-grab.

AFP reminds readers that “Putin first proposed the reforms in January, in a shock to Russia’s political establishment that was quickly followed by the resignation of his longtime prime minister Dmitry Medvedev.”

This isn’t the first time Putin has skirted the country’s constitution to maintain his grip on power. Putin first took power in 1999 as “acting president,” then officially took on the role in 2000. To avoid being term-limited out of power in 2008, Putin became Prime Minister and Medvedev became president, but the power of the office of the president effectively transferred to the PM ‘s office with Putin. Putin became president again in 2012, but is — or I should say “was” — set to be term-limited out in 2024.

But last week the Duma unanimously approved Putin’s constitutional amendment that somehow makes Putin’s current two terms null and void. The Constitutional Court approved the measure, and the people will vote Da on it overwhelmingly in a totes free & fair election next month. I feel very confident about predicting the outcome, if not the actual “free & fair” part.

What that means is, Putin will be eligible for re-re-reelection as the incumbent for an office he never held.

I’m assured this makes more sense in the original Russian.

With his current-yet-nonexistent term set to expire in four years, two more six-year terms would keep Putin in office until 2036, or a bit longer than Joseph Stalin ruled over the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, Russia’s epic mismanagement and cartoonish propaganda efforts continue unabated — I wonder why.